She woke up as she always did, increasing levels of awareness, her senses flooding her brain with unexamined details, the soft brush of the comforter, the whir of the humidifier, slight chill in the air, the unaccustomed ache of muscles, naked skin against smooth cotton sheets, sprawl of her body across the bed rather than the usual curl on her side. She was alone in bed, as always, except that she had not been so when she had fallen asleep last night. She reached automatically for her phone to check time, eyes snagging at the message notifications.
“PICKERING. Have you no morals, man?
DOOLITTLE [unabashed] Can’t afford them, Governor.”
He had quoted Shaw! She smiled and curled back deep under the covers, first stretching out protesting limbs. Her mind lazily drifted over the weekend, a flickering shift of some internal movie screen complete with touch and smell. That point where they stood trading their usual banter, silly exaggerations of commonplace stereotypical responses, as they had for the last few months, painfully aware of their not so usual situations, the fragile illusion of a protected bubble of companionship and acceptance, and maybe the breath of something more.
She saw in his eyes the weary hurt of years of disillusion, the lines on his face smoothening as he laughed at her caricature of an earnestly hopeful candidate demonstrating desired feminine accomplishments of housewifely fervor. He appeared almost young and carefree for those few minutes, and she could imagine him as he had been twenty years ago, teasing, arrogant, open to possibilities. Except for his eyes! And when he had said, half in jest, that all he needed was someone to hold, she had suddenly run out of things to say. Caution, excruciatingly painful lessons in betrayed trust had held her still for a pause, but then she had never heeded the wise promptings of her head. So she stepped up close to him, delicately caressed his cheek, and kissed him softly, losing herself in her own need.